Many endangered species face long waits for protection

From University of Missouri-Columbia:

IMAGE: Emily Puckett, who recently received her doctorate in the Division of Biological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science, found that certain species, like this Eastern Prairie Fringed… view more

Credit: Joshua Mayer, Wikimedia Commons

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted by Congress in 1973 to protect species threatened with extinction. To receive protection, a species must first be listed as endangered or threatened in a process that is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A two-year timeline for the multi-stage process, which starts with submission of a petition and ends with a final rule in the Federal Register, was established in 1982 by a Congressional amendment to the ESA. Now, a new study from the University of Missouri found that many species are encountering much longer wait times before receiving the endangered designation. Scientists studying the ESA believe that delays could lead to less global biodiversity.

“While the law lays out a process time of 2 years for a species to be listed, what we found is that, in practice, it takes, on average, 12.1 years,” said Emily Puckett, who recently received her doctorate in the Division of Biological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. “Some species moved through the process in 6 months but some species, including many flowering plants, took 38 years to be listed — almost the entire history of the ESA.”

Findings are based on an analysis of 1,338 species listed for protection under the ESA between January 1974 and October 2014. Researchers analyzed the amount of time it took each listed species to move through the listing process. Researchers also analyzed whether a species grouping influenced how quickly or slowly it moved through …

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